People Picks ‘Telex from Cuba’

This week’s People (July 21, with pink cover appropriate to the lead story “A Girl for Nicole and Keith”) gives 4 1/2 out of a possible 5 stars and a “People Pick” to debut novel, Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner.

Telex was also the cover review of the New York Times Book Review on Sunday and was reviewed in Monday’s San Francisco Chronicle. The story revolves around American executives and their families who lived luxurious lives on ex-pat enclaves in Cuba before Castro’s revolution.

The Times and Chronicle reviewers agree that, as the Times puts it, “the novel’s real draws are its complex relationships and well-researched cultural context.” The Chronicle reviewer says, “Kushner fills the novel with enough vivid details to make readers feel as if they are on the island at the zenith of American prosperity.” More fancifully, the Times review ends with, “Kushner has fashioned a story that will linger like a whiff of decadent Colony perfume.”

But both reviewers feel that a thriller subplot distracts from the rest of the book. As the Chronicle puts it, “ Kushner too often lets the novel stray into diluted John Le Carré territory.”

People‘s review is largely an interesting description of the plot, winding up with, “a compelling look at a paradise corrupted.”

Telex is on order in small quantities in the libraries I checked, with comfortable holds to copy ratios. None have the audio on order.

It’s at #151 on Amazon, which is a high sales ranking for a debut novel.

Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner

  • Hardcover: $25.00
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 141656103X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416561033
  • Abridged CD (10): Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Pub. Date: August 11, 2008
  • ISBN-13: 9781400108343

Media Coverage:

People, 7/21, not available online, “People Pick” 4 1/2 out of a possible 5 stars

New York Times Book Review, “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” 7/6/08, Cover review

San Francisco Chronicle, Review 7/7/08

Los Angeles Times, “Breathing Literary Life into 1950s Cuba” 7/5/08 — Interviews the author, who lives in L.A., focusing on her research.

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